Following a major ransomware cyberattack that disabled its core IT systems, South and City College Birmingham has closed all its campuses to students for a week, James Cartledge writes. The eight sites of the institution will be shut and revert to online teaching from today while computer forensic specialists work to fix the issue.

The college, which is the result of a merger between South Birmingham College and City College Birmingham and has over 20,000 students, tweeted:

In September 2020, the National Cyber Security Centre warned that more and more ransomware attacks are targeting the UK education sector, including schools, colleges, and universities. NCSC also suggested following a guide that helps private and public sector organizations deal with the consequences of ransomware attacks.

Following this recent incident, the South and City College Birmingham stated:

Our IT team was able to respond immediately and begin an investigation, assisted by third-party computer forensic specialists. They are now investigating the full extent of the attack and aim to restore the damaged systems, ensure the security of the college network, and reconnect our IT systems. These actions will ensure that service is restored as quickly as possible. The college has also reported the incident to the JISC Security Response Team, Action Fraud, Information Commissioners Office (ICO), the National Crime Agency (NCA) and the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC).College Closed Following Cyber-Security Breach: Essential Info for Students
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These incidents increased by 80% in only three months, and it is believed that the thousands of people working from home have played a key part in the escalation.
Last year, the University of Birmingham was among 20 UK-based universities and charities which were subject to cyberattacks. Students’ personal information was leaked online, including names, birth dates, home addresses, phone numbers and email addresses.

All organizations are required to take the necessary steps to prevent these attacks, including patching their systems, using anti-ransomware solutions and training employees about the risks of phishing emails.

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